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U.S. Marine Corps expeditionary airfields systems technicians kneel and stand in front of the station recovery sign hung up outside of their shop at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina, Oct. 21, 2020. Aircraft Recovery may seem a small part of daily operations on the flight line, you may be surprised at how impactful their responsibilities actually are when it comes to saving not only aircraft, but the lives that fly them. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Aliannah T. Bartok)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Aliannah Bartok

On the Job: Aircraft Recovery Day Crew

28 Oct 2020 | Lance Cpl. Aliannah Bartok Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point

There are a plethora of different military occupational specialties (MOS) in the Marine Corps, different jobs and skill sets that keep the Marine Corps mission ready. Today we dive into the runway supervisor billet within the expeditionary airfields systems technician MOS and take you “On the Job”.

Although on the surface the duties of Marines assigned to Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point Aircraft Recovery may seem a small part of daily operations on the flight line, you may be surprised at how impactful their responsibilities actually are when it comes to saving not only aircraft, but the lives that fly them.
For U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Aaron C. Martin, an expeditionary airfields systems technician, his daily duties include managing gear, training and ensuring the Marines on shift work are prepared to catch incoming aircraft at a moment’s notice. Martin works Monday through Friday 0730 to 1630, while his fellow Marines on crew work trade shifts of 48 hours on and 48 hours off. There is very little time to prepare when a pilot calls for aid, whether they’re running low on gas, having technical difficulties or experiencing a mechanical malfunction, time is of the essence.
“I ensure the Marines are well trained and oversee maintenance actions,” said Martin. “If improper maintenance is being conducted on a set of E-28 arresting gear that can cause catastrophic failure on that component.”
The E-28 arresting gear is the assigned arresting gear that Aircraft Recovery uses to stop planes. It consists of an engine on either side of the deck pendant; which is the actual part of the arresting gear that hooks the plane and slows it down. The E-28 arresting gear can accommodate a maximum aircraft weight of 78,000 lbs.
Martin is currently a runway supervisor for Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, Aircraft Recovery. As a runway supervisor, Martin oversees all crews and all maintenance done on the E-28 arresting gear. He also goes on to the flight line to personally inspect the E-28 arresting gear for any issues. Martin worked on a shift work crew for 4 years before he became a runway supervisor, giving him firsthand experience and information that aid him in teaching and training his fellow Marines.
“If there are updates on procedures or operations we wouldn’t know about it without him,” said U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Jordan Bittner, an expeditionary airfields systems technician. “It makes us crew members more confident in our abilities.”
Martin is the primary source for information to pass from the off going shift workers to the incoming Marines, ensuring nothing is missed and he can alert the on-coming crew to maintenance that has been done or needs to be done. He acts as a middle man while updating maintenance paperwork and suppling new parts for the machines to keep them running smoothly.
“Crew members depend on his training to keep us ready,” said Bittner. “We never know when an aircraft will need to be caught. When it does, his training kicks in and we are ready.”
Martin also conducts mock arrestments twice a month to keep the crew’s minds sharp, ensuring if a call comes in his Marines would know what to do. He ensures all shift crew members know their duties and responsibilities.
“I’m confident in the crew’s ability to work without me,” said Martin. “It makes me feel like I’m doing my job correctly. If I assist in training and make sure that the crew can run through an emergency smoothly, then I’m doing my job and the pilot gets to go home at the end of the day.”


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